Are you feeling like the grinch stole Christmas? Do you just wish that for once there could be peace… isn’t that what this holiday is about?
This is the time of the year that is mean to be joyous… yet we can find ourselves caught up in the drama that comes from those dreaded expectations. Perhaps your children are expecting “more” this year yet your income is less. Or maybe your family wants the holiday to be celebrated on their terms… and your spouse’s family has their own traditions that they expect you to honor. Your expectations of family and friends may also be leaving you feeling disappointed.
Expectations are subject to interpretation. Life doesn’t come with a well written legal contact that spells out what needs to be done and the consequences if it isn’t. We were all raised differently and what is important to one person can meaningless to another… or at least not as important.
When you’re dealing with expectations, yours or someone else’s, the only way to eliminate the drama is with open and honest communications. Perhaps you feel that it’s too late to do anything about this holiday season… but it is never too late to make a new decision about how you want your life to proceed.
If you are ready to open up a dialogue and reset expectations try these Simple Steps:
- Get clear about what you want. Family & friends are not mind readers and they sure will be confused if you don’t know what you want from them.
- Get clear about what others want. That requires that you have a conversation with them. Kenny Brixey has this tool that will work great in this situation. As you are having the discussion with your kids, spouse, in-laws… or anyone that really matters to you… listen to what they want and then ask, “I think that you mean _______.” For example if the discussion is about spending time together at Christmas and your in-laws have told you the holiday will be celebrated in their home. Say, ‘I think that you mean that you are expecting us to be at your home in time for breakfast and through dinner that night. Is that what you mean? By asking this clarifying question you’ll have a better understanding of their expectations. And you may just be surprised that all that they wanted was for you to join them for dinner!
- Communicate, kindly. Perhaps your parents have the same expectation that your in-laws do and you’re being pulled in both directions. Explain to them that your family has plans also and that you want to be able to enjoy both families. You can ask for their suggestion on how to split your time or make your own suggestion. For example, “My mom loves to make a big Christmas breakfast. It’s a tradition in our family. We are going to her house early Christmas day and will be at your home by 1pm. Will that work for you?”
There may always be someone that isn’t happy that you aren’t doing exactly what they want you to. You cannot make them happy. If you have clarified their expectations and proposed a reasonable alternative then you have done the best that you can. The holidays are meant to be joyful. Keep yourself in that spirit!
Taking the lead on defining expectations and then adjusting then goes a long way in creating a more peaceful experience. And if you start now… think of how much better next year will be!